When booking your trip abroad, you may be unaware of the advantages of package holidays, but from a legal point of view they are worth considering.
During the current economic climate it is hardly surprising that most holidaymakers will opt for the cheapest holiday they can find. This is certainly good news for many web and telephone-based agents who will happily supply all the elements necessary to make up a holiday. This is not so good, however, for tour operators who may not be in a position to compete with these discounted holiday prices.
The question that needs be considered is whether or not booking these types of holiday offers the consumer adequate protection in the unfortunate event that an accident occurs or they become ill.
If you book a package holiday your tour operator is legally obliged to ensure that the elements of your holiday are provided to a reasonable standard. In English Law, the Package Travel Regulations 1992 provide you with a legal cause of action against the tour operator irrespective of whether the elements of the holiday were provided directly by them or one of their suppliers. This means that if you have an accident abroad or suffer food poisoning abroad and the accident or illness was caused by the hotel's negligence, a holiday injury compensation claim can be brought against the UK based tour operator in this country if the hotel was booked as part of a package holiday.
If you book a holiday through an agent which is not a package, your contract for the provision of the holiday elements will most likely be with the transport or accommodation provider direct. The company you have booked through will not be liable if you are injured or become ill and will simply refer you to either the accommodation or transport supplier. In this instance, your only option will often be to bring an overseas claim. This can cause all kinds of problems and the costs involved will often be more than the compensation you will recover.
It is not uncommon to find that people who book holidays through agents either online or over the telephone will believe that their holiday is a package. It is extremely important therefore for a consumer to fully understand exactly what they are booking and the level of protection they have should anything go wrong.
Your holiday is likely to be a package holiday if it:
- has been prearranged; and
- has been sold for an inclusive price; and
- covers a periods of over 24 hours or overnight accommodation; and
- includes at least two of the following: transport, accommodation or other tourist services.
Your holiday may not be a package holiday if it:
- is booked separately with different providers; and
- has not been sold at an inclusive price.
Although tour operators may not be able to compete with the prices budget agents can offer in respect of the holidays they provide, it is clear that the protection afforded to the consumer in the event something goes wrong is much greater. It may therefore be a case of “you get what you pay for”.
If you are not sure if the holiday you bought is a package holiday or you have become ill or injured either abroad or in the UK, call our specialist litigation solicitors for immediate advice.
Sometimes accidents happen, although they may be the last thing on your mind when travelling overseas. In the event of an accident abroad, specialist travel litigation lawyers are equipped to help you to pursue a compensation claim. See our blog Why Do I Need a Specialist for an Overseas Accident Claim for more information.
Stephen Goodman is a travel lawyer at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
If you or your holiday party suffer an accident abroad, our No Win, No Fee solicitors can help you with your claim for compensation.
Call us on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.
From outside the UK please call +44 20 7657 1555.
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